rap music

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

rap music

rap music or hip-hop, genre originating in the mid-1970s among black and Hispanic performers in New York City, at first associated with an athletic style of dancing, known as breakdancing. The word rap, derived from a 1960s slang word for conversation, generally consists of chanted, often improvised, street poetry accompanied by a montage of well-known recordings, usually disco or funk. Detractors have criticized most rap music as a boastful promotion of violence and misogyny; others have admired it as an inventive manipulation of cultural idioms and credit many rappers with an acute social and political awareness. Early rap groups included Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and the Beastie Boys. Rap has influenced many forms of popular culture, particularly film, and has been increasingly incorporated into pop music. Some influential rap performers include Public Enemy, NWA, Run-DMC, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot, and Queen Latifah.

See M. Costello and D. F. Wallace, Signifying Rappers (1990); G. Nelson, Hip Hop America (1998).

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